How does God determine an individual's share in the world to come? While the Torah teaches that loving God, fearing God and keeping His commandments are a good thing the Torah also recognizes that humans are unable to do so. The commandments are in place so that we can learn that people need help from God because we are unable to save ourselves. Because God knows about our inability to keep all of His commandments, all of the time, He instituted a substitutional sacrificial system as the heart of Mosaic Law.
Adam and Eve sinned proving mans inability to obediently even follow one single law at the time. A blood sacrifice was shed and the remaining animal skins were used to clothe them.
In Egypt a Passover Lamb's blood was used to mark the doorpost of the houses that believed in the promises' of God given them at that time through Moses. They were protected with the blood of the lamb, from the Angel of Death, when by faith they marked their doorpost with this blood. Israel's redemption out of the bondage of slavery followed.
After receiving the law which contains 613 Commandments, over the course of hundreds of year, Israel built two temples and held daily sacrifices at these temples because each new day brought with it mans new sin.
Although exceptions were made for the very poor to be able to offer food as their sacrifice, the Nation of Israel relied on substitutional blood to receive their forgiveness whenever possible. However, when there is not a functioning temple on the temple mount (temple was destroyed in A.D.70) there can be no sacrifice. There have been no sacrifices since 40 years after the death of Jesus which is almost 2000 years.
Leviticus teaches that we should not eat any meat that still has the blood of the animal in it for the following reason:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes (Lev. 17:11).
The Jewish salvation program is based on us recognizing our sin, repenting for it and the penalty for our sin being paid. Loving God, fearing God and keeping His commandments are good but without the penalty of sin being satisfied, they are not enough.
For those who think keeping the commandments are enough, a quick read of Isaiah 64:6 which summarizes our efforts to reach God through the keeping of His commandments, teaches us the real worth of those good deeds from a salvation perspective: For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment...(Isaiah 64:6).
So I ask you, if keeping the commandments gets you into heaven, are you keeping all of the commandments including the ones that require a daily temple sacrifice? Nobody is capable of doing that today because there is no temple. Therefore not one person, no matter how religious they strive to be, can keep all of the commandments all of the time.
But even though there is no temple for a sacrifice today, there is a Messiah who came and gave His life on our behalf as an eternal sacrifice, so that a person could still be covered by a substitution blood offering. God provides for us even today, for those who believe in all His promises, if we only accept that.
Some rabbis teach that charity and prayer now replace the sacrificial system. Giving to charity and prayer are wonderful things but they are not a substitute offering to the lord in place of the Messiah's death on our behalf. Neither was Cain's offering an acceptable alternative to Abel's, no matter how sincere Cain's heart was.
Jesus confirmed that the greatest commandment of all was to love the lord your God with all your heart (The Shema prayer). That love should come from gratitude for all God has done and is doing now for us. That love comes as a result of the salvation God offers, not as the way to earn the salvation itself. No matter how much you want to love God with all your heart, there are still times when your heart is not right, just like there are still times when you don't keep the commandments, even the ones you could keep, which is still not all of them.
Counting on yourself to get you into heaven because you feel like you love God, fear God and keep His commandments is counting on fallen man who is unable to deliver. Adam and Eve were unable to keep even one single commandment all the time. Are we really that much better?
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are in agreement on this issue. The penalty for sin is death and all of us are guilty of sin.
The question is really are we going to atone for our own sins and pay our own penalty or accept the penalty that the Messiah paid on the cross as our punishment?
Israel is unable to keep all of God's commandments all of the time the same way an individual is unable to keep all of God's commandments all of the time. Israel has times when they are obedient and disobedient. Prophecy teaches that Israel will be regathered from the four corners of the world. God is a sovereign God and uses many things to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy. Most Jews living today in Israel still don't keep the commandments but the regathering is taking place anyway.
God will bring all prophecy to fulfillment.
The Old Testament clearly teaches that faith in the Lord brings salvation. Obviously those who lived before the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah did not have the full revelation of God that came with the writing of the New Testament. The question is what kind of faith in the Lord is saving faith? The answer is, faith in God to keep all of the promises that He made that were written down in the Bible. That includes faith about the promised coming of the Messiah.
There is no doubt that God promises a Messiah. Since He hadn't come before the Old Testament was written, people looked forward to the time when God would fulfill His promise to send Him. The same way today we look forward to a time when there will be true peace and the lion will lay down with the lamb.
Counting on the Messiah to take away the punishment we deserved due to our sin is clearly taught in the Old Testament. Blood substitution sacrifice was the heart of the sacrificial system.
Isaiah teaches about the Messiah in his passage known by many as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53:1-12). It is 12 verses long but well worth the read to get an understanding of Messiah taking the penalty for our sin.
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himselfbore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:1-12).
So you see, believing in God, having faith that He would fulfill all His promises, including the promise of Isaiah 53 is what saved those who lived during Old Testament times.
Specifically, by believing that God would someday send the Messiah, just as Isaiah wrote, to take the penalty for our (each individual who believes) sins, allows for faith in this Messiah on a personal level.
Today it is common to hear rabbis claim that this Isaiah 53 passage refers to the Nation of Israel and not the individual Messiah. However, this is not so and has not always been the teaching from the rabbis. For more on this and proof that Isaiah 53 was considered an individual Messiah and not the Nation of Israel please read What the Rabbis Said.
Learn more about the Isaiah 53 Prophecy.
It is important to understand that the Messiah is divine, came to us through the miracle of a prophesied Virgin Birth, and was "God with Us" just like Isaiah said He would be in Isaiah 9:6. Those who trust in God for their salvation also trust in Messiah since there is only one God. For more on this please read The Divinity Of Messiah.
This article is written in part to offer an alternative viewpoint concerning reason # 2 in the book Twenty-six reasons why Jews don't believe in Jesus by Asher Norman. There is no intent to be offensive toward any other viewpoint. It is simply offered as a source of information.
Written by JewishRoots.Net